Baseball don’t need fixing or does it? @MLBRT 3/16

Baseball…

Does baseball need some fixing, or, at least a tweak here and there? Or, is baseball fine and people should just leave it alone?

The crew chimes in with their thoughts..

Plus, some more spring training news and opinions…

1) C. C. Sabathia is in the last year of his contract and he hasn’t had a winning season since 2013. In 2016, he made 30 starts in 2016, with a 9-12 W/L record and a 3.91 ERA. He had arthroscopic surgery in October on his knee. To say his spring training has been mediocre at best is not inaccurate and probably being a tad on the polite side. In his most recent start he went 2/3 of an inning allowing six runs and six hits. 

On a team that needs starting pitching desperately to have any chance of competing in the AL East how long does his 16-year career; 223-141 record buy him before the Yankees seriously start thing of making the same offer they did to Alex Rodríguez last year… Thanks, here’s your money. If, you want you can stay on as some sort of a consultant?

Dan: I honestly don’t think they’ll give him that. They’ll either just cut him or tell him he needs to go to the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them treat him the same they did with Rodriguez, but don’t be shocked to see them just up and cut him or send him down.

If, he can’t get his act right, you’ll see him hit the DL multiple times with no real injury.

Earl: The fact that he’s on the last year of his contract, and, hasn’t been too much of a distraction since his return to the team after dealing with his alcoholism makes him someone I think the Yankees can hold on to. As the 5th starter in the rotation, he won’t be too much of a liability early in the season, but, if he doesn’t make an improvement, he’s someone they can pull from the rotation, or, even cut later on into the season to lessen the financial ramifications.

Steve: I can see it happening, but, would they actually pull the trigger and do this a second time? I understand that he has had some down years, but, at this point you are throwing away money to try and build a championship team. Not the worst idea. But, I would give him one more year to see if he can come out of his rut. After that, try to unload him, eat the majority of his contract, and get some prospects for your ball club.

2) Sometimes in spring training the most heard words are… “It’s just spring training, none of it matters.” 

In your opinion, at what point does spring training begin to matter? Or, except for some prospect trying to grab an open position or bench role, does spring training not matter except for the starting players to get into playing shape? 

Dan: Spring training stat lines and records don’t matter at all. You could lose every game and win the World Series still.

It’s comparable to pre-season in football. Lions went 4-0 then went 0-16 in the regular season. It doesn’t matter.

What matters, though, is the performance. Not stat related, but mechanical, form, etc… Getting ready for the season. If, a player can’t perform and just looks awful at the plate with discipline, swing, footwork, etc… then, it’s a problem. If, he’s not performing but everything is panning out, then it’s okay. But, spring training is here to get ready for the season and make sure you work out the kinks from time off. Try things out, etc…

Earl: Spring should matter as we approach the start of the season. I’ll say spring should matter the last full week of March, because by that point you’re about 10 days away from the start of the season. I think by then you would like to see your players get into shape and start to show signs that they are ready for the start of the season.

Steve: I would think you need to be in tip top shape and ready for the season to start with at least a week left in spring training.

If, you are not ready to go by then, then I can’t see you being ready for the start of the season.

3) Recently the NY Times asked some fans the question… What can be done to fix baseball? The fans’… both young and old… answer was mostly “Baseball don’t need fixing.” However there also were suggestions to do this or that to enhance the game for the viewer… from everything to introducing a clock, to making it more affordable for the fan; to changing the distance of the mound from home plate, to having one lineup for offense and one for defense (like the N.F.L.) or to better marketing of star player who aren’t in major markets. 

In your opinion are you in the “baseball is fine” camp? And, why? Or, are you in the “baseball need some fixing” camp? And, what important changes would you make?  

Dan: I think baseball is fine. It’s a growing sport with a huge following. What do you need to fix?

Does baseball need fixing or should it just be left alone?

If, you do try to fix anything, in my opinion, it’ll come off as a force and unnecessary. Leave it alone. Baseball is great!

Earl: I’m not sure baseball really needs changing but I would like to see a little bit more fun and personal player expression injected into the game. A little flair would help in my opinion. And, it would help more than making huge dramatic changes that alter how the game is played.

Steve: I think baseball is fine the way it is. Although, I still do not like the wild-card game as a one game playoff. I just don’t like the one and done rule. Especially, when you get two of the top teams in baseball going at it.

The only change I think I would like to consider is that they pair the playoff teams by seeds, based off overall records. If, they can do that, I don’t see any other areas of opportunity.

4) It appears that Chicago Cubs’ manager is planning on using Kyle Schwarber as his lead off batter in his everyday lineup. Schwarber is not considered an example of a prototypical leadoff batter.

What is your opinion of Schwarber being used as a leadoff hitter? Good, bad or what the heck it doesn’t matter the Cubs’ hitters are that damn good anyway?

Dan: I like it. It’s something different and unique. Plus, he showed in the World Series that he needs to be a part of their line-up on a day-to-day basis and I think this is a great spot for him to be a catalyst to their offense. I don’t really see a true lead-off man on their roster off-hand and Schwarber doesn’t exactly fit anywhere in the line-up where you can maximize his output. I love this move.

Earl: Absolutely not the typical lead off hitter.

But, I’ll give Joe Maddon the benefit of the doubt since he’s managing the defending World Series champions. However, I will say that having Schwarber lead off is not that big of a deal because the lineup is pretty potent. They can overcome an imperfect fit in Schwarber.

Steve: I mean, you have to put him somewhere, right?

I see this being like a Brady Anderson of the 90’s with the Orioles. 50 HR with a leadoff guy. I am not sold on Schwarber being the leadoff guy because he lacks any sort of speed. Still, I think he will be fine and the Cubs are still going to waltz their way back into the playoffs. 

5) Which team do you think will totally outperform the so-called experts predictions in 2017 and make the playoffs? Why?

Detroit Tigers playoff bound in 2017?

 Dan: I think the Detroit Tigers will make the playoffs. A lot of experts are projecting them to miss the playoffs, come in 2nd or 3rd in the division. I think they’ll snatch the top Wild Card in the AL and win the Wild Card game. I really like the Tigers’ team for some reason and I haven’t figured out the exact reason quite yet, but, they have a really good team and they will shock a lot of people.

Don’t be shocked if you see them head-to-head with Cleveland all year for the divisional crown.

Earl: I said this last week and I’ll say it again, I think it’s the Kansas City Royals.

It seems like most folks are looking at the Indians to take the division, and, they likely will, but, I think the Royals still have enough on the field to get back into contention. This is an organization not too far removed from winning the World Series and many of their contributors are still with the team.

Steve: Experience can be a huge factor when it comes to playoff time, talent can be the other. Put those two together and you have yourselves a decent playoff contender.

I like the chances of the Detroit Tigers. They have a superstar in Miguel Cabrera, and, they have an ace in Justin Verlander. They have some quality starters and position players around them as well. And, I think 81 wins as projected is not where they end up. I see the Tigers getting one of the two wild-card spots in the American League.

 Extra Innings… 

Passing the torch of greatness in the Yankees’ centerfield…

Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle at spring training camp in 1951.

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